African Wild Dog Facts

Alternative Name: Cape Hunting Dog

Latin Name: Lycaon pictus

Status: Endangered.

Lifespan: 12 years.

Weight: Both male and female 20kg to 25kg.

Wild dogs take preference to areas with few trees and short grass. They are found in savannah, woodland and grassland biomes, as well as hilly areas.

Diet and feeding:
Prey species include medium to small sized antelope such as waterbuck, impala, springbok and duiker as well as wildebeest and warthog.

Of all the large land predators, the wild dog is the most successful hunter with an average of 80% of its attempted hunts resulting in kills. Wild dogs hunt very efficiently as a pack and rely more on stamina than they do on strength and speed.

Once the prey has been targeted, the dogs then take turns in chasing after the animal at a fairly constant speed of 60 km/hour. The running prey is often forced into the direction of other members of the wild dog pack, who wait ahead to have their turn in chasing after the prey.

The hunted animal, exhausted from all the running slows down or stops, giving the wild dogs the opportunity to grab hold of it with their powerful jaws which they then use to tear off chunks of flesh resulting in the prey dying from loss of blood and shock.

After a successful copulation the female has a two-and-half-month gestation period. The pups are born underground, usually in old abandoned aardvark burrows. The average litter size varies from 7 to 10 young, with as many as 20. The large litter sizes may be as a result of the very high mortality rate of wild dog pups due to various diseases contracted by domestic dogs and predation by lion, hyena and leopard.

The young suckle for roughly three months but are capable of feeding on meat at 2 to 3 weeks of age. After a successful hunt, the adults then return to the den to feed the young by regurgitating the meat.

Other interesting facts:

Wild dogs have very large home ranges, ranging from 200 square kilometres to over 1000 square kilometres.
Their home rangers may extend into farm areas where they are seen as a threat to life-stock and are often destroyed for this reason.

Wild dogs are highly endangered and many attempts in breeding projects have been unsuccessful with most puppies dying in captivity.

A sad fact is that at a certain stage in time, wild dogs were seen as brutal animals in the way that they hunted and how could such a cruel animal be left to live?, resulting in may of them being destroyed.

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